From the Tales of Dr. Mother Grimm-Goose; PhD of Fictional Dysfunction and Fairy Tale Family Counseling
Once upon a time not so different than the times we live in now there was a divorced father of two children who fell in love with a woman who fell in love with him and his two children, Hansel and Gretel. He worked hard to provide for his family as a woodcutter, but woodcutting is a hard business. Struggling to meet the ever changing safety requirements, state and federal mandates, and appease the environmentalists, while still providing the much needed lumber made things very difficult for the business. Fortunately, he married a very supportive woman who did her best to help make ends meet, working when she could and caring for the children.
However, things were further made difficult for the woodcutter and his wife by his witchy ex-wife. Their divorce had left the woodcutter paying debts that made being frugal and thrifty necessary. And while the woodcutter and his wife worked hard to provide Hansel and Gretel with a good home, they were sometimes just able to do so. Hansel and Gretel had their own rooms filled with many of their favorite toys, closets full of nice clothes, and always had home cooked meals; however, like all children there was always something more they wanted.
Even though their stepmother was loving and caring, Hansel and Gretel accused her of being unfair and mean when she asked them to clean their rooms. They hated it when she helped them with their homework, which she tried to do because their father spent all day woodcutting, not coming home until evening when the kids had gotten out of school hours before. They complained of her cooking, which was always well balanced. No matter how much the stepmother did the children were never completely satisfied and would complain, encouraged by their witchy-mother.
You see, even though the woodcutter and the witch had divorced they still were father and mother to Hansel and Gretel, and though the children primarily lived with their father and his loving wife, they did get to spend weekends and summers with their witchy-mother. Now it isn’t for you or me to say how much the witch loved her children, but she also had a grudge against the woodcutter. She was angry that their marriage hadn’t worked, and wasn’t about to own up that her infidelity had been a major factor in its end. She was angry that he had married again, and that his new wife was younger and loved the woodcutter with all her heart and loved his children as her own. That just didn’t sit well with the witch.
Every time Hansel and Gretel went to stay with their witchy-mother, though her house was most definitely not made of gingerbread and frosting, she indulged them with all the soda and candy they could want. She was determined that they would like her better and did all within her power to be contrary to the woodcutter and his wife. If the children had their favorite toys at the woodcutter’s house, then she would do one better and allow the children to have televisions and game systems in their rooms at hers. If the children ate healthy home cooked meals at the woodcutter’s house then they would have take-out and drive-thru meals at hers. No matter what the witch did, however, the woodcutter and his wife always made their house a home for Hansel and Gretel.
Then one day the witch used her most powerful magic to summon a lawyer to help her destroy the trail that always led Hansel and Gretel back home to the woodcutter’s house. Yes, she loved her children, and yes, she wanted them to live with her, but she also wanted to make the woodcutter suffer. She was Machiavellian that way. Not only did she want the children, she wanted the woodcutter’s money. She used every means at her disposal to manipulate everyone into believing that she loved her children more than the woodcutter, that she was a better mother, and that the stepmother couldn’t possibly love the children as much or be happy raising children that weren’t hers (which was a low blow to say the least).
When the courts ruled in favor of the witch, the woodcutter and his wife were devastated—their world turned upside down. The children went to live with the witch and the woodcutter had to pay. Things became even more difficult as the woodcutter and his wife struggled to pay their bills, the debt left by the divorce, and child support while the witch sat at home complaining about how hard it was to be a single mother. Hansel and Gretel now only saw their father on weekends and the summer, but the witch determined to make it as hard as possible, refused to meet anywhere for the exchange and even insisted that the woodcutter pay for gas. The witch couldn’t even get a job because her witch license had been revoked after a scandal over misuse of potion ingredients, and she was unwilling to take a job in retail even if it meant she might have more money.
As the days continued the woodcutter and his wife struggled under the weight of financial difficulty, while still providing Hansel and Gretel a loving home to visit. The witch on the other hand struggled more and more with the responsibility of actually raising her childrenâ€“who like all children really weren’t any better behaved for her since she never really disciplined them unless you counted all the yelling. She favored Hansel, always taking his side against teachers who expected him to complete homework, which the witch felt was asking too much since he kept asking for her to help with it, and she didn’t want to do it. The witch forced Gretel to do all the cleaning, claiming that it would instill her with proper moral values, but really the witch didn’t want to do that either. Hansel and Gretel began to struggle with childhood obesity and cavities as a result of their indulgent diet, not to mention the trouble they had in school due to poor grades and even worse friends. It was a miserable time had by all, though the witch would always put on the show of doing her absolute best as a struggling single mother, garnering her much sympathy.
Hansel began to really have problems in school, getting into fights and failing. Gretel became very self-conscious of her appearance, and hated just about everything. The witch’s house became a wreck because she never felt like cleaning, Hansel only played video games and ate, and Gretel spent more and more time locked up in her room crying. Soon the children began to resent the witch for everything, as teenagers often do. The witch, who had never been completely of sound mind, finally lost it.
By this time the woodcutter and his wife were very concerned about the children. All their efforts to provide a good home and to try to prove they could provide a more stable living environment had been in vain due to powerfully manipulative witch. However, one day the woodcutter received a call informing him that Hansel had been expelled from school for excessive fighting, and that there was great concern about Gretel who seemed excessively sad and had expressed having thoughts of self-harm to the school counselor. A meeting was scheduled to further discuss matters.
When the woodcutter showed up with his devoted wife, both concerned about the children, the witch became furious and refused to discuss anything with the woodcutter’s wife in the room. With the grace of a saint the wife left the room to wait with the children. Hansel and Gretel were not unhappy to see her. Hansel for once sat relatively still, and Gretel came to sit beside her and tentatively talk a bit. Meanwhile, inside the conference room things were going badly.
Instead of talking about the children and what was to be done the witch spent the entire time complaining about how she never got any help, and how the woodcutter was never friendly with her. She complained that Hansel and Gretel didn’t get the help they needed in school, and that the teachers sent home too much homework. She complained that she couldn’t get a job because of the economy. In short she complained about everything, took responsibility for nothing, and wouldn’t agree to any solutions for the children.
However, one good thing did come about. Little did the witch suspect, but Dr. Mother Grimm-Goose the best Fairy Tale Family Therapist had been called in to observe. The witch completely missing the significance of the introductions had revealed her complete self-absorption and disregard for any meaningful discussion about Hansel and Gretel in front of the one person whose opinion would be irrefutable to a judge. And so it was that Dr. Grimm-Goose recommended in her most authoritative professional opinion that the children would be better cared for with their father the woodcutter and his loving wife, while the witch was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital to undergo psychological evaluations after it the discovery that she had not been taking her prescribed medications that might have made her less of a witch.
*Photo: Red House by misteraitch obtained through Flickr Creative Commons.